Hartford Business Journal

September 21, 2020 — HealthiestEmployers

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www.HartfordBusiness.com • September 21, 2020 • Hartford Business Journal 17 for advice about how to remain in compliance with state and federal COVID-19-related regulations, on everything from the amount of personal protective equipment they must provide, to whether they're adhering to wage and safety rules. "I think that the need for advice and counsel has gone up dramati- cally because so many employers are aware that they need to comply with so many different laws," Bovée said. "It's challenging for your average employer to navigate that." As courts open back up for non- criminal matters, Bovée said she ex- pects even more lawsuits brought by employees suing over wages, termination or other work-relat- ed grievances. The pandem- ic's timing also dovetails with Con- necticut's 2019 Time's Up Act, which expands employer's obligations to pre- vent sexual harassment and goes into effect Oct. 1, Bovée pointed out. The law extends the statute of limitations for employees to file sexual harass- ment suits and allows the courts to impose punitive damages in discrimi- nation cases, among other facets. In addition to rising workloads in areas like bankruptcy and employ- ment law, Day Pitney is seeing an uptick in real estate investor clients enlisting services, Managing Part- ner Tom Goldberg said. It's one of the practices where attor- neys' hours have spiked in tandem with the pandemic, because the same finan- cial upheaval leading some businesses to shutter could create opportunities for real estate investors, Goldberg said. "We are optimistic that as the econ- omy starts to recover — or as we start to come out of the pandemic — that we are going to see a rise in business activity in real estate," Goldberg said. Day Pitney also has seen an increase in demand for services from clients seeking guidance about the CARES Act and loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration. As a result, the firm formed a five-executive CO- VID-19 taskforce to focus exclusively on those specific issues. The uptick in COVID-related law- suits appears to have staying power in the short term, at least in part because the pandemic has introduced so many unanswered questions, Zaccardelli of Hinckley Allen said. One example she points to is the expanded use of re- mote work platforms that could create liability surrounding cybersecurity. "There are a lot of new businesses that are popping up in the virtual space, and there's a whole host of issues that need to be resolved with online platforms," Zaccardelli said. But Pullman's Goldman thinks that, while COVID-related lawsuits will take years to make their way through the courts, the overall spike in lawsuits will eventually die down. "Certainly you'll see some [legal] fallout," Goldman said. "But I don't see this as some sort of permanent increase." Ch. 11 commercial bankruptcy filings spike amid pandemic The number of U.S. companies that have filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy is up 28% so far in 2020 as a result of the economic fallout from the coronavirus. Ch. 11 filings nationwide* Month 2020 2019 % Change 2018 2017 January 631 366 72.4% 367 402 February 548 685 -20.0% 425 407 March 530 449 18.0% 774 471 April 567 444 27.7% 394 576 May 725 487 48.9% 448 581 June 609 424 43.6% 310 601 July 644 423 52.2% 415 333 August 526 450 16.9% 364 499 Total 4,780 3,728 28.2% 3,497 3,870 *Cases included in totals represent only commercial business bankruptcy filings. Source: American Bankruptcy Institute Tom Goldberg, Managing Partner, Day Pitney

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